Friday 17 May 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 17/5/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Image: Shutterstock

Politics / Ed Stocker

Going the distance

France has a complicated relationship with its former colonies. Remember Emmanuel Macron, his white sleeves rolled up, wading through the crowded streets of Beirut in August 2020, just days after the city suffered a devastating port explosion? Or the heavy military presence that France maintained in parts of West Africa until recently? The country’s relations with its 13 overseas territories – stretching from the Caribbean to the Indian Ocean and into Polynesia – are even more complex and have led to accusations of 21st-century colonialism.

This week, the Pacific territory of New Caledonia has been rocked by violent protests, resulting in several deaths and leaving hundreds wounded. Paris has declared a state of emergency, sending police reinforcements to the islands and, rather oddly, blocking social-media platform Tiktok. The riots broke out over a new bill adopted by lawmakers in Paris on Tuesday that allows French residents who have lived in New Caledonia for more than 10 years to vote in local elections. Previously, only those who had lived on the archipelago since before 1986 could take part. The nationalist Front de Libération Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS) has argued that the move disadvantages the indigenous population in favour of those arriving from L’Hexagone, thus watering down the chance for political independence.

France needs to tread carefully. It has already been in the spotlight earlier this year when it announced plans to revoke birthright citizenship in the overseas département of Mayotte in a bid to curb immigration levels. In New Caledonia, however, the situation is very different. The territory represents about 8 per cent of the world’s nickel reserves and occupies a key strategic position in the Pacific as France seeks to provide a bulwark against potential Chinese aggression. France will need to listen to grievances and, potentially, make concessions.

Ed Stocker is Monocle’s Europe editor at large. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

The Briefings

Powering up: Tesla expands into Malaysia

Image: Getty Images

Business / Malaysia

Leading the charge

Malaysia has overtaken Thailand to become Southeast Asia’s second-largest auto market, with government tax exemptions for domestically produced vehicles helping to increase sales. Thailand’s car sales fell by 25 per cent in the first quarter, reflecting the country’s ongoing economic stagnation. The change in fortunes illustrates broader trends in the fast-growing Southeast Asian car market.

Malaysia is now a prominent maker of hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs), whose sales are set to grow this year. Demand for conventional combustion vehicles, on the other hand, is expected to decline. Meanwhile, the government in Kuala Lumpur is keen to support homegrown brands such as Proton and Perodua. Foreign manufacturers are now eager to enter the Malaysian market; in March, for example, MG debuted two EV models in the country, while Tesla entered the market in 2023. But it remains to be seen whether they will be able to succeed in the face of stiff domestic competition.

Design / USA

Best laid plans

The annual NYCxDesign festival kicked off last night with an opening party at Mercer Labs. This citywide celebration continues to assert New York’s position as the US’s top city for design galleries and a crossroads of the global market. This year, new collections include pieces by UK lighting designer Lee Broom and meditative work by French artisan Vincent Corbière. There is much to see but our pick of the bunch is Egg Collective’s paean to Eileen Gray’s modernist architecture. The Tribeca-based gallery’s three founders have worked with her original sketches to maquette a house that she planned but never realised. This exploratory project renders what the structure might have looked like, while showcasing work from Egg Collective’s furniture collections that pay homage to Gray’s eye and oeuvre.

Full of bright ideas: Alzira Antunes and Corentin Fossemo

Image: Homo Faber

Craft / UK

Second-hand knowledge

As part of this year’s London Craft Week, which wraps up on Sunday, Swiss luxury watchmaking house Jaeger-LeCoultre is hosting an exhibition entitled Homo Faber: Today’s Masters Meet Tomorrow’s Talents at Cromwell Place in South Kensington. The showcase displays the results of the company’s mentorship programme, which paired young artisans seeking to learn traditional craft techniques with master watchmakers.

The objects on show represent a variety of creative disciplines, from bicycle-building to embroidery. Standout pieces include gilded-silver ear cuffs with intricate mosaic feather-work by French duo Julien Vermeulen and Matéo Laurent, and a sculpture by Portuguese stone carvers Alzira Antunes and Corentin Fossemo.

Beyond the Headlines

Image: Ryan McGinley

Photo of the week / ‘Fragile Beauty’

Winds of change

This week the UK capital is the centre of the photography world, hosting major industry events such as Photo London and Peckham 24. This picture, Ryan McGinley’s “Dakota Hair”, is part of Fragile Beauty, an exhibition opening this Saturday at South Kensington’s V&A. The show presents a selection of more than 300 era-defining pieces by 140 photographers, from the 1950s until today, exploring the themes of human strength and vulnerability.

Image: Getty Images

Monocle Radio / The Urbanist

Conflict and the city: rebuilding

In part two of our series looking at conflict and the city, we examine the concept of rebuilding, as well as how the character of the city plays a role in the process. Plus: how to create a new metropolis while showing compassion for the past.


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